Ready to Blame Racism If Obama Loses

Wednesday's Times devoted nearly two full pages to five chin-stroking stories from across the nation discussing how race will affect the campaign. The subtext: Will white racism cost Obama the election the media has already put in the bag for him?

AdamNagourney's "In Privacy of the Voting Booth, Race May Play a Bigger Role"laid the groundworkfor blaming an Obama loss on race, though he did admit at the very end that the race issue cuts both ways, an idea almost never raised by the Times:

But it is hard to tell, as Mr. Ickes and Mr. Anuzis said, to what extent voters who are opposing Mr. Obama might seize other issues - his age and level of experience, his positions on the issues, his cultural and ideological background - as a shield.

And if Mr. Obama is losing support simply because he is black, that is not a one-sided equation. A crucial part of Mr. Obama's theory for winning the election is turning out blacks in places like Florida and North Carolina, a state that Mr. Obama's advisers view as in play largely because of the significant African-American population.

From Lexington, Ky., Shaila Dewan lamented continuing racism among the young in "In Generation Seen as Colorblind, Black Is Yet a Factor," while Western-based reporter Kirk Johnson visited a "nearly all-white corridor" in Colorado for "Color Is Secondary In a Part of Colorado."

Finally, Southern-based reporter Adam Nossiter looked for racist comments in Mobile, Ala., and sure enough found some, helping fill out his piece,"For Some, Uncertainty Starts at Racial Identity." Nossiter, who back in May couldn't find any white liberals in Louisiana,conflated racism with legitimate opposition to Obama's politics and background:

The McCain campaign's depiction of Barack Obama as a mysterious "other" with an impenetrable background may not be resonating in the national polls, but it has found a receptive audience with many white Southern voters.

In interviews here in the Deep South and in Virginia, white voters made it clear that they remain deeply uneasy with Mr. Obama - with his politics, his personality and his biracial background. Being the son of a white mother and a black father has come to symbolize Mr. Obama's larger mysteries for many voters. When asked about his background, a substantial number of people interviewed said they believed his racial heritage was unclear, giving them another reason to vote against him....Other voters swept past such ambiguities into old-fashioned racist gibes. "He's going to tear up the rose bushes and plant a watermelon patch," said James Halsey, chuckling, while standing in the Wal-Mart parking lot with fellow workers in the environmental cleanup business. "I just don't think we'll ever have a black president."